Joey Votto

Joey Votto in no rush for a long-term contract

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All this talk about a contract extension for Adrian Gonzalez makes for a natural transition to National League MVP Joey Votto, who will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

Votto earned $525,000 this past season while batting .324/.424/.600 with with 37 home runs, 113 RBI and a 1.024 OPS. Faced with potential that he could make $7 million as a first-timer through the process, the Reds appear interested in at least buying out his arbitration years. While many Reds fans are hoping to have him locked up for the long-term, Votto indicated to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s in no rush to sign an extension.

“I don’t know as far as beyond three years. I think it’s a real unfair question to ask,” Votto said. “This is not me saying I don’t want to be here. But last year was a difficult year for me. This year was a better year for me. It’s really hard for me to think three years ahead, five years ahead, seven years ahead or 10 years ahead. When [Troy] Tulowitzki signed that 10-year contract [with the Rockies], I was blown away. I can’t imagine seeing myself 10 years from now saying I want to be here. It’s an overwhelming thing to ask a young person like myself and say ‘here’s a lot of money. Be happy with this over 10 years, deal with it.'”

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty informed John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he has had preliminary discussions with Votto’s agent, but that they haven’t “talked numbers yet.” Meanwhile, Votto told Sheldon earlier today that he doesn’t plan to give the Reds any sort of hometown discount as part of a long-term deal.

“I’m not going to disrespect the people ahead of me that paved the way for those types of earnings and the people behind me that expect a certain amount or fair value,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt the people behind me. That’s not fair.”

It’s a harsh reality, but that doesn’t mean there’s any reason for panic here. Votto, 27, remains under team control through 2013, so there’s still ample time to negotiate.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.